Boilermakers Look to Stop Their Study Decline in the Big-10 With a New Era
To put things bluntly, Danny Hope’s 4 years as head coach at Purdue were a miserable failure. Hope replaced a legend (Joe Tiller). New coach Darrell Hazell (formerly of Kent State) certainly won’t be replacing a legend. But he will have the task of cleaning up a mess left behind from the Hope era. Hazell should have plenty of time to get this program turned around. Most of the Purdue fans understand just how far Purdue has fallen in recent years. Plus, they’re more concerned with basketball season anyway. So he’s going to be given every opportunity to right the ship.
Hazell certainly wasn’t a big hire in terms of name recognition. But he appears to be a great fit for a program like Purdue. And he has Midwest ties. He did a solid job at Kent State, which is another program that is difficult to win at. So even though the Boilermakers didn’t make a big splash hire, they got a guy that’s capable of winning at a place where winning isn’t easy.
The Boilermakers Offense
Will Hazell Go With Experience or Inexperience at QB?
There are a lot of question marks with this Purdue team, but the one everyone is curious about is the quarterback position. The experienced quarterback on the roster is Rob Henry. He’s mobile and a solid passer but has battled injuries and inconsistencies throughout his career. Still, he is a capable Big-10 quarterback. Although Henry is the only experienced quarterback on the roster, Hazell has decided to wait until the last minute to name a starter. That’s because he wants to see what true freshman Danny Etling and redshirt freshman Austin Appleby can do in fall practice. Hazell plans on giving those quarterbacks every opportunity to overtake Henry for the starting spot. We expect Henry to start and think Hazell is using this tactic as a way to make Henry work even harder in the offseason. Smart move.
The running game is likely going to be a big part of the Purdue offense for a change, especially if Henry is the quarterback. At tailback, the Boilermakers have a small, speedy back by the name of Akeem Hunt. His lack of size isn’t a concern to the Purdue head football coach. Whether he’s right or wrong is yet to be seen. One thing is certain, Hunt has big play ability.
The Boilermakers Defense
Is the Return of 8 Starters a Good Thing…or a Bad Thing?
Normally when a team has 8 starters coming back on defense that’s a good thing. It may or may not be for Purdue. The Boilermakers ranked just 77th in the country in total defense last year. And although they return 8 starters, the superstar of the defense (Kawann Short) is gone to the NFL. Purdue should be decent up front, but they’ll likely struggle mightily to cover the pass. That’s bad news for a team that is going to face quite a few high-quality passing games.
Defensive end Ryan Russell is the key to this defense. Like we said, the Boilermakers don’t have a strong secondary. What’s the best way to help out a struggling secondary? A great pass rush. Russell is the only player on this team capable of dominating opposing offensive lineman and consistently getting to the quarterback. He’ll have to do that many times this year for Purdue’s defense to have a chance of containing passing games.
A Final Word on the 2013 Purdue Boilermakers
We don’t have much confidence in Purdue winning more than a handful of games. Wins and losses shouldn’t be important to Purdue fans this year. They should be more concerned with Coach Hazell having this team competitive by the end of the season so they have something to build on for 2014. He wasn’t left with much talent so if Purdue struggles this year, let’s hope Boilermakers fans are understanding. Our prediction is a 4-8 record.